Wow, it's been a while, eh? Somehow, I failed to remember a call to the phone company upon my recent move, and couldn't get online to write upa Tuesday review or Sturgis preview last week, as I'd planned. Incidentally,my sunburn is still peeling from my week on the lake in Michigan, and my wallet is on life support following the spending spree that was the San Diego comic con. In this installment, I'll be offering a Summerslam preview, a couple (dated) letters I'd meant to post, and my thoughts on a select few of the recent happenings in the world of pro wrestling. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Let's kick this mother off with a...
The World Wrestling Federation seems to have returned to form a bit with this PPV, keeping us guessing up until the very last week regarding just who would be featured in the lineup, which could've been a good thing... had they really clarified a couple issues before this Sunday. Where did the women's title match come from? Why are we having a tag team "turmoil" match? Where's Jericho? Plus, will the notorious bookers of the Fed manage to give us more than a couple good matches on a card that features 9 matches? Only time will tell...
The Acolytes v. Prince Albert&Droz v. The Hardy Boyz v. Hardcore Hollys v. Edge&Christian v. Val Venis&Godfather v. Mideon&Viscera
"Tag Team Turmoil"
The WWF web page boasts "This match will pit seven of the best tag teams in the world against each other in the same ring.".. which I consider almost insulting. The day Mideon and Viscera are considered "best in the world" at anything is the day I take a long walk off a short bridge. The same could be said for Venis/Godfather, as well as Prince Albert/Droz. You'll find no argument here about the Hardy Boyz (surprise...), and I get the feeling that justice may be around the corner again for these two, considering their recent alignment with Gangrel. Predicting this is about as easy as successfully predicting the Royal Rumble... it ain't gonna happen. I'm gonna say right now that if Mideon and Viscera walk off with this, I'll take a month off from the WWF. In the end, it boils down to the Acolytes, the Hardys, and Christian/Edge, all of whom have had words of late. In the end, strength lies in numbers.. I'm gonna go with the Hardys, with help from Gangrel... barring an interference from Michael Hayes.
Winners: The Hardy Boyz
Ivory v. Tori
For the Women's Title
Well, here's one for all ages.. finally, a women's title defense with less focus on T&A and more on pure wrestling, which is why this will probably flop. WWF fans aren't there to see good, technically adept wrestlers. They're around to see the outrageous acts, the "accidental" nudity, just to see how much farther Vince will go. Sad but true, the division has died following Sable's departure as the WWF has no high-flying beauties (isn't that an oxymoron?) under their banner. If Tori comes out in a new outfit, it'll be a step in the right direction.. that 'cat' motif is horrible. As for the match itself, it really depends on what kind of night the two ladies involved feel like having. Tori has yet to tear out anything overly impressive, and the same holds true for Ivory. Sunday could become a launching pad for the Women's division, but I'm willing to bet it will instead mark it's grave. I'm expecting to see Tori recieve what she should've captured at Wrestlemania.
Steve Blackman v. Ken Shamrock
Lion's Den Weapons Match
An extension of the 3 month old Shamrock/Blackman feud that started just before King of the Ring, I don't think we'll see much that we haven't seen before. Unless these two go absolutely brutal on each other and shoot to an undetermined finish, the result might be ugly. Mrs. Shamrock's baby boy is apparently still active in the WWF for the time being, but how long until he makes his much-anticipated return to the UFC? Though an injury angle would hurt Shamrock's credibility, I think it almost has to be done to save kayfabe. Then again, everybody knows where Kenny's headed... why not let him go out in style, with a 'v' here? Much harder to predict than I'd imagined, I'm gonna have to go with Shamrock.. a loss might take him out of future contention for the world title.
Winner: Ken Shamrock
D'Lo Brown v. Jeff Jarrett
For both the Intercontinental and European Titles
FINALLY, an Intercontinental feud worth the time of day! Given another couple months of similar treatment, I believe the belt will have reclaimed it's previous spot as second only to the grand daddy of them all, the prestigious World Title. Personally, I really hope it doesn't end here between these two. Each can put forward so much more than they have in this feud, and a good, technical encounter is just what Titan needs right now. The outcome of this one seems to have been scripted wayyy in advance, as Debra finally makes her split from Jarrett official here. I'm not sure what's happening with the European title (perhaps a merge with the IC belt?), but regardless, I see D'Lo holding onto the belts for just a bit longer here.
Winner: D'Lo Brown
Kane/X-Pac v. Paul Wight/Undertaker
For the Tag Team Titles
Quite a bit of history in this one, but I fear the Tag belts will be lost in the shuffle with a Wight/'Taker victory, as was the case around this time last year with Austin/Undertaker and Kane/Mankind tag reigns. I'd look for some teased tension between the two goliaths, leading to their obvious eventual split.. but a tainted victory leaving them without the belts. A DQ or countout victory is my call, leaving the belts around the waists of X-Pac and Kane, but allowing another check in the 'v' slot for the twin towers '99. Could Jericho make an impact on this one, and begin his rumored feud with X-Pac?
Winners: The Big Show / The Undertaker
The Big Bossman v. Al Snow
For the Hardcore Title
I was hoping to be wrong with my prediction at the last PPV, which called for the Bossman recieving the belt.. no such luck. So this month we get a rematch with a 'revamped' Al Snow (trading Head for a funny little dog), in what will probably rival the tag match for worst of the night. Not even Foley could carry the Bossman to a good match, so what can we expect out of Snow, besides a victory, and another Hardcore Title award?
Winner: Al Snow
Shane McMahon v. Test
"Love her or Leave her" Match
A prime example of a feud that's drug on for much too long, with little redeeming qualities. Still, the transformation of Test from 'sticky-sweet, hopeful courter' to 'angry, heelish overprotective boyfriend' keeps me interested. Could Stephanie notice such a change and take action? I'd say give it a month. Meanwhile, Test will pretty much manhandle Shane here as the Mean Street Posse are nearly completely in shambles and unable to interfere. Barring a new member's surfacing, this one's already in the books.
The Rock v. Mr. Ass
"Kiss my Ass" Match
I'm not sure if the subtitle is an actual stipulation in this one, or just something the webmasters threw in to give it 'added appeal', but it's a pretty disturbing image. Here's a feud that's only taking place because of a serious lack of main event heels in the current roster. Were there anyone else remotely available, I doubt the "Ass man" would be featured this high on the card. Somehow, I doubt I'll ever be able to swallow this guy as anything more than an overpushed midcarder. That image leads to his downfall here, especially considering his recent domination on raw.
Winner: The Rock
Stone Cold Steve Austin v. Mankind v. HHH
For the WWF Championship... special guest referee Jesse Ventura.
Recent rumors regarding Stone Cold's sudden refusal to take a pinfall from HHH have supposedly lead to Mankind's inclusion in this match. I find that a bit difficult to believe, as everybody and their mother's known about HHH's title "clause" in his contract, and a world title reign near Summerslam is almost a guarantee. Still I'm willing to place money on a Mankind loss here, whether it be at the hands of Austin or HHH. The hype seems to be a bit too much in Helmsley's favor, and I'm betting he won't be granted the belt until the Raw following this event or the next PPV excursion. On a final note, Mankind's presence here will do wonders for the match's workrate, no matter how rusty he is.
Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin
While the true judgment of this PPV will come with it's execution, on paper it doesn't look extremely interesting. A few choice run-ins (and some mic time for Jericho) could change that, and I'm sure the crowd will be extra hot in Minnesota, but I don't see a PPV that can top Spring Stampede as best of 99 here.
I recieved a few letters regarding my last Tuesday Review, which follow...
TReLaNe (email@example.com ) gave me some insight regarding DDP's 180 powerbomb a few weeks back..
"DDP has been using it for a while but for some reasons only as a heel."
That was his entire comment. Short, and to the point... a good change of pace. About DDP as a heel... I'm not sure what it is, but I always enjoy him so much more when he's not a fan favorite. As a 'face' champion, I completely despised him. As a full heel now, I think he's found a very good role as the 'mentor' of the Triad. Not to mention the fact that his ringwork seems to improve by a good 200% when he works as a heel. Go figure. It could also be that I'm loving his recent willingness to job to both Benoit and Kidman on TV. Either way, thanks for the correction and your mail.
Unreal410@aol.com wrote in to correct my shortminded comments on Benoit's "new" music:
"I just wanted to let you know that is Benoit's old music as well... It was used when the Horsemen broke up right after Flair had his head slammed into the cage door by Curt Hennig."
I'd completely forgotten that music, but when I think about it, you're right. I hope we're in agreement that the music still doesn't suit his character, though. Hell, just so long as he doesn't walk out jamming to something from Chad Brock next week, I'll keep my bitching to a minimum. Thanks for the response.
Fellow Columnist Matt Spence (firstname.lastname@example.org) gave me something to chew on, in a recent e-mail and I'd like to hear from any lucky fans who are concerned with Japanese Puroresu on American Television:
"I remember us having a bit of a discussion about Japanese wrestling on US TV. Well, that looks to be a serious possibility right now. First, NJPW TV is already on digital cable in certain areas. However, the chance for it to expand is there.Go to www.1wrestling.com and check out the column called "Puroresu Power" from 7/27 if you want to read more about it. It's quite interesting."
If anybody currently gets such a program, or has any idea how I might go about picking up such a station, drop me a line. In the meantime, check out the aforementioned article as well as "The Deal", coming to you on a more reliable schedule than Ringside Shadows, on several Oratory sections across the net. Look for a little something from Matt and I within the next month.. I guarantee it'll be worth the wait.
Finally, Kevin Doherty (email@example.com) wrote me a lengthy mail, most of which focused on events that have since passed (damned vacation..), but some of which is still relevant.
"why is it that when there's two groups of two or three talented wrestlers, it's a tag match, but when they're mediocre wrestlers, it's exploded into 3 matches?"
That just seems to be the way WCW works, though hopefully things are changing. A lot of the backstage politics keep deserving workers and feuds from recieving the kind of attention the deserve and need to grow. If you look at the feud in question (The Hogan/Sting/Goldberg v. Steiner/Nash/Sid disaster), you'll see the two biggest names in the WCW backstage area in Hogan and Nash, as well as a monster ego in Sid. These 3 demand such attention alone, putting them together ranks among the worst ideas of the century. About your question though, there really is no great answer, except that it's a valid observation and definately something that should be checked into in the near future.
He goes on to say:
"I strongly recommend listening to the August 2nd edition of WCW Live from the archives (the first 15-30 mins), as they had Vampiro and ICP on, and Vampiro was much more vocal about his dislike for Konnan"
I'm gonna agree here, and tell everybody who hasn't already to check out any of Vampiro's WCW Live interviews, as they're always entertaining, and really allow you to pull for the guy and further understand the events that pull workers down backstage. Thanks for your e-mails, and keep reading.
This is running a bit long, so it looks as though I'll have to save the majority of my thoughts on what I've missed for a later column. Thanks for reading,
until then, i remain